Google "J Paul Ghetto" and see what
you find: www.google.com
I live and work in New Center in midtown Detroit. Our offices are housed in the old GM building.
There are security guards posted at all points of entry to the building. Recently, I was approaching the guard booth at the
entrance that is accessed from the Boulevard cross walk. A very attractive black female guard was sitting at the booth
reading. There were 3 white men in suits, a little bit ahead of me, approaching the booth. The guard looked up,
made eye contact with the white guy walking in front, flashed a toothy smile and said "Good morning", continued smiling and
made eye contact with all three. I was about 3-4 steps behind them. She looked at me, stopped smiling, dropped
her head and went back to reading! When I got parallel to the booth, I said: "Good morning". Without raising her
head she mumbled: "Morning" and never bothered to look up!
Granted, it was a minor incident. Unfortunately,
this sort of thing has happened, in varying degrees of drama, during my 17 years, as a public employee. I am 6'2"
tall. I am told by many people that I look "mean". I won't deny that "looking mean" while growing up in Detroit,
has not served me well. After college, I titrated my expression, to try and put people at ease. When I graduated to
so called "professional environments" where most men walk around with "focused expressions" on their faces, in the hallways
and on the elevators, I have made an effort to at least look "congenial". I don't wear suits. Admittedly, I dress street
pimp casual. My clothes cost far more than the average suits most of the men buy and I'm comfortable. People that
see me daily, still treat me as if I will tear of their arm off and beat them with it! When I worked downtown, people that
I saw all day, would not get on the elevator with me after 6 o'clock. The irony always being: they would have been safer
with me aboard, than traveling in an empty building alone.
The phenomena I am describing transcends all racial and
gender groups. White men, white women, black men and black women all express some form of startle reflex, however subtle,
when it comes to black men.
I'm Just Jealous
Some of the most voluptuous black women I've ever laid eyes on, step on
the elevators and engage the white men in the most inane conversations I've ever had to be subjected to. Today, a six
foot tall woman with a butt that looked like she was hiding 2 midgets in her pants, strode onto the elevator with this white
guy that has problems. He has a tan Labrador-retriever which we all know he brings to work to use as a chick magnet.
I'm standing there holding the door. She walks past me like I'm the fucking elevator operator. Never speaks. Never utters
"Thank you for holding the door for me you handsome devil". Never looks up. She ask the man how often he takes
the dog out to take a shit! As I'm offloading, I hear him begin to tell her that he takes the bitch outside up to 4
times a day but most of the time she won't do do!
Why Do I Care?
Pick up any black magazine or turn on Oprah.
You will find a litany of black women whining about the availability of suitable black men. That's bullshit. They
ignore us. I was watching Hair Show, a movie starring Monique and that fine chick from The Bernie Mack Show. All
the black men in the movie were gay except the one lusting after Monique's more than generous ass! Bernie Mack's chick
was off to a budding romance with a handsome rich black stud until she walked up on him in his car parked on a city street
only to find him getting his dick sucked by a blond haired white man! The suckee was so overcome by homosexual lust that he
decided to have sex on a busy street, in the early evening! It must have been the specter of danger that forced him
to be so indiscreet! The movie was written and directed by a black woman. There were a plethora of positive female
roles in the movie.
The new president of my Cadillac Place Fan Club informed me recently that I had been accused of
being gay by one of the female security guards. The discussion about my supposed gender preferences, ironically came
from one of the female guards that I make speak to me! Me and the guard stopped talking after she stood me up on 2 dates,
so I must be gay. It couldn't be that I'm pissed about the way she blew me off!
Whining Is So Undignified
I was raised by social Nazis. My mother was a light skinned Methodist from Alabama. My father was a large
dark skinned black man born and raised in Detroit, in the Sanctified Church. They both had to deal with the ugly realities
of racism and bigotry growing up. They managed to raise me and my two brothers in an environment that protected us from
those ugly realities until we were out in the world. My parents also demanded that we be well behave and socially appropriate
at ALL TIMES. Adolph and Eva would NEVER allow us to be discourteous to adults or commit egregious crimes like: going
to the bathroom more than once while in other people's homes or accepting beverages or food while visiting. My older
brother and I abused the neighborhood children behind my parent's backs but grew up understanding social dynamics and what
fork to use while dining. "No, thank you" became our childhood mantras.
Being a well educated, socially appropriate
mesomorph in chocklit does not conform with people's television ideas about black men. Since slavery times, black men
have been characterized as horny and dangerous. During the twentieth century, the 70's and 80's media fueled notions
about black men served to further entrench negative ideas about us. Today even black men fear black men. A confluence
of forces has worked tirelessly, since the Crusades, to prevent black dicks from stabbing European asses. On a level
playing field, we can out think most people, kick their ass and fuck their sister.
All of the
adverse publicity swirling around black men has in some ways created paradoxical situations. The notion of black man
as bad boy has caused women of different backgrounds to pay us an inordinate amount of attention. In the 21st century
we have become the forbidden fruit to which many people wish to take a bite. All of the down low brothers I know have
white partners. And, the number of white women pushing strollers with little caramel colored kids and white grandparents
with choklit grandchildren is increasing. Unfortunately that attention from other folk serves to fuel the alienation
many black women feel for brothers.
Since the late fifties, early sixties, black men have become increasingly guilty
of abandoning our families, corrupting our environments and turning to white women and in increasing numbers, white men.
We have not been the best role models we could be. Our conduct as a group however, does not explain why that good looking
guard with the red hair and big bootay ignores me. Cause white men have NOT been superb role models either, yet they
still manage to promote the "goog guy" veneer. Rationalizing and analyzing helps me deal with the disparate treatment
I encounter; when trying to get waited on in stores, or being passed up by news people when they want to interview someone
in a crowd or when the police stop me and draw their guns as they approach my car. I walked into a precinct to report
a robbery a few years back. When I came through the door ALL of the cops put their hands on their guns!
Civil and Civilized
Adolph drove me and my brothers over to the juvenile facility during one of our many excursions
to the lower east side. He promised that we would stay in the juvy home were we ever to be arrested. I remember thinking
that it would be impossible to climb a curved wall! Except for one or two incredibly stupid moves, during my teen years,
I have been a pretty solid citizen. I learned early in my professional career that it was best to adhere to the rules
as much as possible. Conversely, I have also discovered that those rules are applied against me to the letter, if there is
a belief that I have violated any of them. And I'm always guilty and I'm never given the benefit of doubt.
brother wiser than me stated that "pressure makes diamonds". I have carried those words with me, over the years.
Besides being a big brute, I am an artist and an intellectual. The treatment that I and many of my friends and associates
are subjected to is reprehensible. ALL of my friends work, take care of their families, vote at every election and haven't
had to kick anybody's ass, since we were in our twenties. We get no good citizenship credits despite being good patriots.
This country was built largely due to the blood, sweat, tears and sperm of black men. The best and brightest of us are,
jailed or publically maligned.
I Am Not Paranoid
Malcolm and Martin were alive when I was young.
I lived in Coleman Youngville and watched the media clown him and investigate him but at least he got to be an old man. Many
of us have come to understand that it's better to work within the system than to stand outside of it a hurl .
the desegregation movement, the collective pushing and shoving of black men has paved the way for the new generation of black
men to move forward and try to survive in today's world. There is: A) the kinder gentler black man. He is apolitical,
efeminine and works well with others in a non threatening manner in the work environment. His counterpart: B) is rugged,
thuggish and pistol packing; knows all the words and meaning to the latest hard core rap, loves his momma and objectifies
all the rest. Plan B worries us all. And he is all our faults. Personally I worry more about plan A. He
terrifies me and won't look at me or talk to me, when I see him in the isle or on the elevator. He can't relate to me
because he never had the chance to be around men like me. When he hit puberty, momma stopped the men from coming over and
he became her man. He hid behind skirts so long, that when he got grown he was indifferent to men like me.
For The Future
I realized years ago that my pimp gear and long hair, keep me from getting in the pants of some of the
well healed women that I encounter in the work place. From my perspective, if they can't see me for the superlative
man that I am, they are better off without me. That's basically why I'm pissed about the response I get from the guards
and the tight suited women on the elevator. Lucky for me, the girls that work the counters at the coffee shops, the
eateries and the bars, still like me. My heritage causes me to smile broadly and thank them graciously for serving me.
Time is on my side as far as the guards are concern. Thank God for turnover.
post script, July 2008
pitiful guard is still here. After years of speaking to white men, when they approach now, she watches them pensively,
trying to get some eye contact from them so she can smile and say good morning. This morning the white man walking ahead
of me did not bother to look in her directions. I felt her disappointment, as she has been disappointed a hundred thousand
times, yet ever vigilant, she anxiously awaits the acknowledgement she feels she deserves. When she looked up and
saw me bringing up the rear, she dropped her head once again.
It occurred to me that she represents to me relationships between black men and black women in America and as in
most instances like her we are almost always looking in the wrong direction hoping for recognition from someone that won't
give us the time of day.